Anyway, this guide will help you answer at least one of the following questions:
What a game developer does? What roles/competencies do you need to form a solid Indie Game Development Team? What is the difference between different roles in game development?
Today we're gonna discuss the different faces of Game Design.
Also, if you want to know what are the other fields in the video game industry, check out the other parts of our game dev roles compendium:
Table of contents:
- Game Director / Creative Director
- Gameplay Designer
- Level Designer
- System Designer
- Technical Game Designer
- Monetization Designer
- Narrative Designer
- UX / UI Designer
- Junior / Associate Game Designer
Game Designers are people responsible for creating the core of the game itself - the gameplay. They're tweaking and balancing (and playtesting - don't forget about that part) all parts of the game. They create levels where all the magic happens.
Game Designer’s job is designing all mechanics that make the game the way it should be.
This role is very versatile, and you can say that it's a bridge connecting various teams in the game studio.
In indie game studios - commonly, game designers handle every aspect of building gameplay (Game designer does it all: level design, gameplay design, quests, story - you name it).
In the bigger studios, you see that different people work on separate parts of the game design. And that's why we're gonna list what each of these game design team roles does specifically. So you can have a nice understanding of who does what
When someone says that they dream of becoming a game designer, they probably think about this particular role.
The Game Director guides the rest of the development team to achieve the desired vision of the game (which he often creates). This person makes sure that every aspect of production leads to the creation of THE game. And by every, I mean: design, story, etc. (Sometimes even art, where there's no Art Director on the board.)
If an Art Director is present, then these two work in tight cooperation.
Gameplay Designer takes care of the... (suspense is killing you, I presume)
core aspects of the gameplay! This role works on game mechanics, different game modes (if the game is supposed to have them), and the player's progression.
They're constantly tweaking the game. Testing and checking if the mechanics they created are fun and clear enough for the player. Their goal is to make gamer's experiences as engaging as possible.
If the gameplay designer builds mechanics, the level designer's job is to create an "interactive playground" where they can be used.
They plan what will happen to the player during his playthrough.
Are there any encounters, puzzles? They define the goals and objectives for each stage.
They make layouts of traversable environments. They build rough mockups of terrains using simple shapes. This is called "blocking-out." Block-out helps Level Designer check if the map is clear enough for the players (does the player know where he needs to go? Cause if he doesn't, it's a slight mess up, which needs to be taken care of). Is it fun enough to play?
These guys are obsessed with spreadsheets of any sort.
They balance the hell out of the game, taking care of the economy, stats, points, etc. If you're playing the game and after 30 hours, it's still fun - that means that System Designer did well.
This role is a mix of game design and programming skills. They won't go deep in the code as a regular game programmer would, but they're efficient with working in a game engine, though. They're able to apply the code that's related directly to the gameplay.
You can spot these folks within structures of free-to-play companies. Suppose you encounter a mobile title filled with infamous microtransactions. In that case, you can be sure that the monetization designer dipped his fingers into it.
Monetization Designers are setting the prices, maintaining the economy of F2P video games, the currencies. They're taking care of the balance between making a profit and still providing fun gaming service to the players (so they will pay).
The writer deals with the words: The story, dialogues. And I could stop right here tbh.
These guys are standing behind the game lore. If it helps, you can easily compare this role to the screenwriter. They don't need to worry too much about the gameplay.
Writers are often hired as freelancers.
So what's the difference between a Narrative Designer and a Writer? People confuse these two roles so often.
The Narrative Designer is using the game mechanics to "tell a story." He is using all the needed systems and tools to communicate a message to the player. Narrative Designers work with constraints that the Writer doesn't have. They always need to check if the story goes well along with the gameplay.
These guys are placing all the user interfaces, menus, buttons, HUDs that are assisting you during the game. They make sure that the elements are clear and readable to the player. Their goal is to navigate players through the playthrough and place all needed features where a player would expect them to find.
(It's not unusual for an art person to take upon this role. The other good combo is when a game designer cooperates with a UI designer [an art person]. The Game Designer specifies gameplay-related requirements, and the UI designer translates them into one readable and cool-looking UI.
These are the entry-level positions. Junior Game designers need support and supervision from other game designers. Also, they need to focus on executing tasks given to them rather than calling the shots.
Look at this as your first step on your journey to become a regular full-fledged Game Designer.
You may also like our list of 5 top game design books.
So this is it. The first part of our guide on game development careers in video games. Stay tuned to the next part.
Also, if you think there're any roles that we could've missed - the comment section is all yours.
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